You may never have had the experience yourself, but you can probably imagine the sensation: you’re chasing after a troublemaking child in bare feet and step on a LEGO, or you’re running on the beach and land awkwardly on a jagged rock. The result of that painful foot-vs-object encounter might be what is loosely described as a stone bruise.
Although there is some disagreement over what a true “stone bruise” really is—in many cases it’s used as a catch-all term to describe a certain set of symptoms, rather than a specific condition—the phrase usually refers to painful injury to pads of fat on the sole. Typically, a blunt trauma (often caused by taking a hard step on a stone or other small, pointed object, hence the name) causes a deep bruise in the bone or surrounding soft, fatty tissues. When you walk on that bruise, it may feel like you have a rock permanently stuck in your shoe.
These bruises typically form on the load-bearing portions of your foot, namely the metatarsal region (the ball of your foot) or on the fatty pad that cushions the heel. Runners are the most frequent victims, as their regular routine involves lots of hard foot impacts, often on terrain that may be rocky or on sidewalks littered with obstacles or small objects. Depending on the location and severity of the impact, the pain may be immediate and intense, or it may take a day or two for the bruise to fully materialize, but it is often persistent and can make jogging or even walking a difficult experience.
Stone bruises typically heal on their own with adequate rest (often within a couple of weeks); however there are a number of conditions that can produce similar symptoms (including plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, stress fractures, and others) that require a longer and more involved rehabilitation process. A visit to Family Foot and Ankle Center, Inc. for a complete check-up will help determine the true underlying cause of your discomfort—this is especially important if pain does not subside after a few weeks. In the meantime, RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is the best first-aid home solution to minimize pain and swelling. Yes, that means no running or returning to your sport for a little while, at least until the pain is gone.
Equipment changes can also make a big difference. Exercising barefoot or in flimsy shoes that don’t adequately protect or support your sole is a definite no-no; always choose footwear that fits properly, is in good condition, and provides plenty of cushioning on high-impact zones. Specialty shoes from Bob Roncker’s Running Spot, cushioned insoles, or custom orthotics designed by our experts can also help defend against stone bruises, especially if you have existing foot problems, such as overpronation, that affect how weight is distributed across your feet.
You don’t have to treat deep bruises on fatty tissues or bones with stone-like stoicism. If pain is preventing you from walking, running, playing, or accomplishing your daily goals—especially if the problem has lasted a week or two with no improvement—call Family Foot and Ankle Center, Inc. at (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572 to schedule an appointment. We’ll help you determine if your pain is being caused by a mere bruise or something more significant, and we’ll help walk you through whatever recovery is necessary.